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Safety group recommends extending graduated licensing for drivers to age 21

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association, which represents local highway safety offices responsible for addressing highway safety issues, recently made the recommendation that all state extend the amount of time young drivers remain under restrictions. At present, states have different graduated license requirements, with many allowing drivers to obtain a permit at the age of 16 and to obtain a full license upon reaching the age of 18.

The association’s recommendations came as part of a study which found that the number of fatal car accidents involving teenage drivers is actually higher for drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 than for younger drivers. The researcher who wrote the study said she believes that the reason for the numbers is that young drivers are not receiving the extent of driving training they need. Extending training until the age of 21, she argues, would ensure drivers receive enough safety training. 

It isn’t clear how the suggestion will be received by the states. Even if extending graduated licensing to older drivers would help increase highway safety among young drivers, it isn’t clear how practical it would be. Restrictions could vary, of course, and states would have to find a way to balance the burden of license restrictions with the benefits of extending driver training.

New Jersey is unique in that, while it doesn’t extend junior driving restrictions to the age of 21 in every case, it does require drivers of all ages to go through a graduated process before obtaining a full license. In our next post, we’ll look at New Jersey’s graduated license requirements and the issue of liability in teenage driving accidents

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